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“I find it very ironic that Billie, an artist clearly inspired by rap culture, can so easily criticize rap music for ‘lying’ when she herself brags about seducing other people’s dads and killing her friends,” says VOX ATL staff writer Zariah Taylor.

Collage by Zariah Taylor/VOX ATL

We Need To Talk About Billie Eilish [OPINION]

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The Grammys are always full of surprises, but the biggest surprise of the 2020 Grammys for me was when Billie Eilish managed to sweep almost all of the major awards, including Song of The Year, Album of The Year and Record of the Year. I’m a fan of Billie Eilish. It’s refreshing to see an artist around my age be so successful. What I didn’t like about Billie Eilish’s win at the Grammys was that she managed to thank everyone and everything for her success in her acceptance speech but black culture.

From her style to her accent, Billie has (hopefully) inadvertently taken much of her persona from black people. Billie’s style, which is reminiscent of black style icons such as Aaliyah and Dapper Dan, features hoop earrings, chains, Jordans, oversized baggy designer clothes and gaudy acrylic nails. Although Billie has stated in a video for Calvin Klein that she wears baggy clothes to prevent fans from expressing their opinions on her body, I can’t help but see her style and be reminded of the type of styles that were popularized and pioneered by black people in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

In addition to her clothing, one of the things that has helped Billie establish herself is her personality. Billie’s mannerisms and slang can be seen as derived from black culture. Billie not only uses African American Vernacular English (AAVE), but she also has a very clear blaccent, something that her brother, who was raised in the same household, does not have.

I first started noticing these things about a year ago when I discovered Billie’s music. I didn’t want to villainize Billie because after all, she is only 18 and has a lot of time to grow as an artist and establish her own style. Plus, It would be irresponsible to not mention that Billie has credited her style to black artists such as Rihanna. It wasn’t until recently when Billie made very controversial comments about the state of Hip Hop in a new interview with Vogue. 

“Just because the story isn’t real doesn’t mean it can’t be important. There’s a difference between lying in a song and writing a story. There are tons of songs where people are just lying,” she said. “There’s a lot of that in rap right now, from people that I know who rap. It’s like, ‘I got my AK-47, and I’m f*ckin’ . . .’ and I’m like, what? You don’t have a gun. ‘And all my b*tches … .’ I’m like, which bitches? That’s posturing, and that’s not what I’m doing.” 

I find it very ironic that Billie, an artist clearly inspired by rap culture, can so easily criticize rap music for “lying” when she herself brags about seducing other people’s dads and killing her friends. When she, a white woman, does it it’s called “writing a story,” yet when rap, a predominantly black genre, does it, it’s called “lying.”

Billie isn’t the first artist to take aspects from black culture only to disrespect it in the same breath. It’s very clear that black culture sells. Rap is the No. 1 genre right now. AAVE is littered throughout social media. Cornrows and other protective styles are fashionable in Hollywood. Black style is seen all over the runway. Because the industry sees that black culture is so marketable, they often put it in a package that is easily digestible for white audiences; insert here a random white artist, ie. Post Malone or 2013 Miley Cyrus. Both are artists that take part of black culture (rapping, twerking, AAVE), but put it in a little bit less “ghetto” package that is easier for white people to digest.

Here is why this formula is problematic. For one, as a black person, it sucks to see someone like Post Malone be so successful when I know many less-famous black artists who have almost the same aesthetic yet aren’t popping off, possibly because of the color of their skin. Would white people still sell out Post Malone concerts if it was a black man making the same music?

Two, it also sucks as a black person to see this aesthetic sell when a white person does it, yet in real life, these are the behaviors black people are persecuted for. When Billie Eilish wears baggy clothes, fashion publications everywhere hail her as a fashion icon. Yet, when black people wear them, they are targeted and considered “ghetto.” When Kim Kardashian wears braids, it’s cool, but when black people wear them, they are fired from their jobs or expelled from school. When Miley Cyrus uses AAVE, it’s trendy and fun, but when I use it, it’s unprofessional.

Three, white artists treat black culture simply as an aesthetic, not a generational tradition. For example, Miley Cyrus had a so-called, “black phase” in which she used AAVE and came out with rap songs. However, years later in an interview with Billboard, she wanted to distance herself from the genre because according to her, “It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock’ — I am so not that.” Miley took from our culture to gain relevance, yet so easily threw it in the trash like it was disposable to her. Black people don’t get the same privilege of being able to drop the culture that has been ingrained in them since childhood. Some black people don’t know how to code-switch or don’t have the resources to straighten their hair anytime they want, yet white people get to do the same?

And it’s not just celebrities. Your average rich, suburban white kid uses AAVE, listens to rap music and says the n-word, but he gets defensive during conversations about race and locks his car door when black people walk by. I love the phrase, “They want our rhythm, but they don’t want our blues.” I love this phrase because it exemplifies generations of white people enjoying some parts of black culture but ignoring the parts they don’t like. Where are these Post Malone fans during Black Lives Matter protests? Where are the Billie Eilish fans when black people are defending themselves from racism on social media? It’s up to those in power (*cough cough, white people*) to help dismantle the racism black people face just for some of the same behaviors that white people indulge in. If you claim to be so appreciative of our culture, why aren’t you supporting us when it really counts?

Almost all of our modern pop culture slang is influenced by black people. All you have to do is peruse on TikTok for 30 seconds to see that many non-black people easily cherry-pick parts of black culture to be funny while simultaneously using it in a wrong and offensive way. Take for example, a new trend in which teens are wiping their nose and then sticking their thumbs down, emulating a gang sign popularized by rappers such as Young Thug. The trend is offensive as teens, many who are not black, are making light of gang signs and slang such as “slatt” and “slime” which many black people are getting killed overdue to the gang implications that come with the trend. It’s very disrespectful that non-black people are using these slang words and mannerisms in the wrong context without doing any research.

Speaking of slang, I could write an entire article on all of the words used by non-black people that are actually created by black people. Lame, bae, f*ckboy, twerk, yolo, turn up, thick, cool, my bad, hater, 24/7, back in the day, high-five, and rip off are all words that are part of AAVE. The problem with cultural appropriation doesn’t just lie in using these words, it’s about using these words in a way that is disrespectful to black people. If you’re still confused about the problems of cultural appropriation, I’m concluding this article by answering a few frequently asked questions about the subject. 

Are you saying that I can’t wear [insert something here] or say [blank] without being racist? 

I’m not. I’m saying that if you want to wear these styles, you should also recognize that black people are often persecuted for wearing these same styles. Be able to recognize this and talk about it, as well as be able to support black people in their times of need. Also, be able to give credit to the black people that have inspired your look. 

“Let people wear what they want…It’s just hair, get over it.”

That’s very easy to say when you’re not a part of a culture in which you are punished for what you wear/say/do. Put yourself in a black person’s shoes, and maybe you could see why we can’t just “get over it.” 

Black people wear straight blonde hair. Isn’t that cultural appropriation? 

No. Black people are capable of growing naturally straight or blonde hair. Hair color and texture is a matter of genetics, not culture. Not only that, but black people were often forced to straighten their hair in order to assimilate into white society. So no, it’s not cultural appropriation. 

How do I appreciate black culture without appropriation? 

There are good examples of cultural appreciation. Brazilian sportswear label Osklen paid an indigenous tribe for their contributions to their spring 2016 collection. The tribe then was able to use the money to support their community. Obviously that example is on a larger scale compared to the everyday person. If you want to use parts of black culture, always give credit where credit is due and ask yourself, “Am I using this style to be cool, or have street cred?” “Am I using this culture while simultaneously not doing my research/being disrespectful?” “Am I taking space from the people who created this look?” If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, it’s probably better to just not use that part of the culture.

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comments (98)

  1. Hannah

    Nicely written Zariah. Keep these articles coming.

  2. Allison

    Really well done, thoughtful, challenging article. It gave me a lot to think about.

  3. Dribsoscar

    Look all this blaming won’t help am black and am still trying to make it as a rapper but most of the famous black rappers are sh*t the 90’s had the best rappers and look how Eminem has taken advantage of that most white rappers and artists do alot of listening and try to emulate that where as black new rappers mumble and don’t have any bars she’s right many rappers do lie in lyrics even I do , like rich Ross always lies in his verses talking about shit he doesn’t have so her trying to be black is good it means he have appositive influence all over the world and in 50yrs every body will wanna be black so stop trying to demonize white people of culture appropriation its good its juts us that ain’t marketing it well enough we can influence it and will wanna be like us soon they will be toning their skins more browner or light-ish its what it is man like it or not white people pay the bills for most rappers ,jayz,diddy,are name it they are the largest buyers of Hiphop music without them shit Hiphop would still be in the Hoods so inthabk all the white people out there keep doing you keep listening to the O.G rappers listen good learn how to spit,Rhyme and if these fake ass mumble rappers don’t pull up they game shit they will kill rap

  4. Lala

    Great article.

    Billie on Cover of Vogue’s March Issue. Seems like over the top, blatant, unnecessary and therefore offensive cultural misappropriation. I think is exactly what you meant when you wrote “taking space” smh What do you think?

  5. JA

    I recently linked this article to help explain cultural appropriation to someone who wanted to know what it meant. Thank you for this!!

  6. KR

    I’m black and not the biggest fan of billie eilish, however i see this entire situation completely differently than stated here. From my knowledge she has many black friends (some exes i believe?) that may have influenced the accent. Wearing baggy clothing has always been a trend and she was genuinely upset about her body, especially since Twitter blew up with that one picture of her in a tank top, and people commenting on her breasts. She definitely gives praise to many black artists, (not just rihanna) like her friends (@mtvsevenamp on instagram etc, i love him). Plus i find it more racist to be creating this idea of segregation and how only all blacks could dress and talk that way, white/asian people have been raised in different parts of the world from their hometown and different cultures have reasonably completely influenced them, making this an issue as you seem to be assuming whoever isnt black shouldn’t be acting that way despite many existing simple circumstances that exist today. Having friends or coworkers with the same accent can influence someone, eventhough they dont mean to pick it up or be culturally appropriating. Basicall all media is filled with what you would call “culture appropriation” if this concept is applicable to every other minority group. It’s more so of influence and little things such as fashion in this sense shouldn’t be taken this seriously, people are culturally appreciating it now and that’s great. Assuming white people roll down their car windows when we walk past makes us look worse, not every white person is racist and minorities can be racist too, Ive seen it. Cultural appropriation is happening all over the world in the activities we do, words we say, stories we know and food we eat etc if you apply the same knowledge, and in all honesty girl.. that’s wack

    1. Domenica

      Yes! Not only this, billie is so young, she was raised on the internet. Black culture is now mainstream culture on the internet. I wouldnt say she is appropriating, but more that shes inspired by what she grew up on, which is hiphop and rap. Because the internet ¯\_(ツ)_/ This woman explains it really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZQR7pFkyw0

    2. Zain

      yup, one of her biggest influencers was also Tyler the Creator, which she has mentioned on numerous occasions. And I don’t think she is obliged to say thanks to black culture in her acceptance speech since she pretty much does it everyday.

    3. Lashaan


      1. Greg

        Some of the things mentioned in this article I unfortunately do .I’m a light skinned Latino with some native or African ancestry ( Hispanics can be any race including black) but I am glad I read this article and really took the time to understand your perspective. There is a problem in the Hispanic community because some are really racist towards black people yet many but not all listen to rap ,salsa ,merengue , reggaeton etc etc which were all influenced by Africans that live in latin America.

    4. PM

      Thank you, exactly what I was thinking. All this bs about her wearing the clothes considered ‘black clothes’ and especially the discrimination against post Malone, he’s rapping and he is successful, yet just because there are black rappers that aren’t as successful, he’s racist, bullshit. Also, ever heard of Stormzy? I’m
      pretty sure he is black, raps, and is successful. This woman is just creating a bigger race problem like so many others are

    5. IdontevenlikeBillieandagree

      This comment says it all!

    6. ivy

      I totally agree with this.

    7. F

      Listen to her current interview on david letterman her way of speaking seams way more natural and not putting on a Blaccent.

  7. Federico

    I liked your article, it’s well written, bravo (although since you’re a girl I should say “brava”.)

    As a white guy from Europe who has no horse in this race I can only say that the white appropriation of black culture is nothing new, it happened with the Blues before Rap, and as a Blues lover I am thankful it happened, because it exposed many great black artists to a wide world audience. Currently Black rap artists are storming the charts everywhere, so perhaps the only one who should complain about it is me, because am not really into Rap!
    So forgive me if I say that I do miss the old times when black music was synonymous to Blues music. 😉

  8. DeMiya

    Sis she ain’t lying in her music cus she admits it isn’t true. Meanwhile, rappers get people to believe sh*t they say is true in their music, when them n*ggas is all lying. Coming from a black girl, I ain’t got no f*cking problems with her.

  9. Phil

    This could’ve been written 35 years ago about Madonna or 25 years ago about Gwen Stefani. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Great piece, keep on keeping on

  10. Malina

    But I thought acting “ghetto” was just a stereotype, not culture. Also, anyone can be rich or poor, it has absolutely nothing to do with race. Black people always go on about white people doing this and that, but what about latinas, Indians etc.? Many Hispanics say the n-word and people don’t bat an eye. Anyway, whoever said white people don’t have culture are very stupid. I’m Ukrainian and we have culture, same with other foreign white people. And no it’s not my great grandma who was born there, but my whole family was. I’m a mix of Russian as well. We’re white, but not like Americans. Our mothers and fathers are extremely strict, hit us with a belt and charger cords, we eat сало (pig fat) and beet soup, also wearing braids is also a part of our culture. +much more. My family grew up in a village as well. basically what I’m saying is…why does everyone make things about race?

    1. Aimee McDonald

      Because this is about race??

  11. Marceline

    Great insights.

    One other thing which needs to be said about Billie Eilish is that she grew up in Highland Park, Los Angeles, which has been rapidly gentrifying since the mid 2000s. As a gentrification baby, she was arguably conditioned into those same white chauvinist attitudes she expressed towards hip hop in her Vogue interview, namely that she feels entitled to be an authority on what people of color “should” be, or that she (as a cultured white girl) believes she knows how to do black and brown culture “better” than actual black or brown folks.

    There was an interview she did when she was 15 where she said “nobody really lived” in her neighborhood before it was gentrified, and how it’s now become a “little hipster block party” and “popping” since hundreds of working-class families of color were displaced. You can find it by googling ‘Billie Eilish Highland Park’. There is also a video on YouTube where her mother (Maggie Baird) jokes about having flipped their neighbor’s house to a “lovely couple with no criminal past” (which is just a euphemism for white middle class).

    1. pamela

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  12. Gisela

    Billie Eilish and her supporters love to justify her appropriations of blackness on the basis that she grew up in the “hood” of Highland Park, yet Highland Park has been rampantly gentrifying for most of her life and has now become an oat milk hell. Her parents are on-record as having flipped houses in the area in the mid 2000s right before the market went into crisis. Not to mention Billie herself has made very degrading comments like “nobody really lived” in Highland Park before the white hipsters moved in. I’d even go so far to argue that Billie’s culture vulturing comes entirely from her psychology as a child of gentrification. Gentrifiers steal black, brown, and sometimes white working-class culture, refine it so it becomes palatable to “cultured” white bourgeois sensibilities, and sell it for a higher price.

    1. JR


    2. tia

      I wouldn’t blame billie though, I would blame her parents. She surronds herself around mainly black people so of course she’s going to pick up some of their mannerisms, but also she clearly grew up in a household where she thought that was alright. The interview you’re refrencing she was only 14 or 15 and clearly just spewing what her mom told her.

    3. Jenny

      That was not a good comment by Billie. I usually like her and she doesn’t seem racist, but that particular comment was off.

  13. G.b

    I don’t wanna seen rude or anything cause I respect all cultures but her song bad guy which includes most of the lyrics that this article includes is based on what she’s not she has Said it before in my any interviews that some people want to make themselves seem all bad and stuff then she’ll lie too so the song isn’t literal

  14. Melissa

    This was very well written – educating the public while remaining civil in the conversation. I greatly appreciate this as I see a lot of people who try to educate themselves by asking questions but end up getting very condescending responses. I understand the urge to condescend though – our society is full of many people who are not only ignorant but are committed to remaining ignorant by ignoring the perspectives of minorities. It is extremely frustrating. It really is, and I understand the lack of patience that so many people feel. I see those who try and inform the public, while unfortunately, allowing their emotions to affect their presentation. Their intentions are good, and much needed for the advancement in our society. However, I wish it was more known how ineffective it can be for convincing the audience.

    In any debate where you are trying to convince/persuade someone, presentation is very important. When the listener starts to feel mocked, condescended, or insulted their minds will immediately turn off and close up. They will go on defense mode, thus keeping them from really absorbing your message. This defeats the whole purpose of the discussion. So, when I see someone who can present their perspective and attempt to persuade in a very effective way is super refreshing, and I always feel the need to stop and show my appreciation because it WORKS. I did not fully understand cultural appropriation, I’ve tried but as I said it’s hard to hear the message when my brain starts going on defense mode – a perfectly natural response that occurs in ANY human who feels their identity being attacked or shamed which stems from the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4729319/#:~:text=Research%20investigating%20the%20neural%20substrates,%5B11%2C23%5D).

    Anyway …. this article was perfectly written, effectively provoking compassion, empathy, and an open mind from its reader. (at least for a reader willing to understand) Very effective! And from someone only 15 years old? All the more impressive. You’re on the right path to changing the world, or at least our society. Keep speaking out. 🙂

  15. billie’s bitch

    there’s a lot to unpack here so stick with me:
    baggy clothes instantly = appropriation?? that’s ridiculous. people wear baggy clothes for a variety of reasons, and hers is hiding her body. she’s stated that on more than one occasion. as for her “blaccent” she’s a teenager. a teenager friends with lots of black rappers. young people take on the mannerisms of those around them, so it makes sense she would start talking like them. chances are she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it. it’s human instinct to mimic the people around us. as far as her being praised for her baggy clothes and black celebrities being shamed, that’s not her fault. you can’t pin the media’s ideals on her just because they use her name. that’s not her choice nor is it a reflection of her beliefs. and about her lyrics, she’s not dissing them in the way you’re implying. she’s saying her form of writing is different than theirs, rather than make stuff up she likes to write about her experiences. she’s a teenager. we don’t always say things perfectly, but i’m sure she was not trying to put down her own friends. that’s ridiculous. and i’m not sure what you mean about her lyrics being about killing her friends? if you’re referring to “bury a friend” she’s said many times before that that song was about xxxtentacion. she’s talking about having to bury her friend. not kill her friends. by “seducing people’s dads” i’m sure you mean her lyrics in “bad guy.” those lyrics are “might seduce your dad.” MIGHT. not “i seduced your dad.” there’s a difference, and for all you know she could be talking about an experience in which someone old enough to be a father catcalled her or looked at her sexually. that happens to teenage girls a lot. or she may not be singing about herself directly in that song. maybe she’s singing from someone else’s point of view. this whole article seems to be written by another person who can’t stand to see a teenager get so much praise. billie is kind and an excellent role model for a lot of young girls, far better than those we’ve had before who sing about sex and drugs all the time. that or you’re just another person who wants to be “different” and finds any excuse to hate on a mainstream artist only because they’re popular.

    1. JJ

      Bury a friend and bad guy’s explanations are incorrect, but other than that I agree.

  16. Laura J

    Also though, I feel like if she said “I’d like to thank black culture” in her speech, ppl would think that was racist too. So I guess there’s always something to complain about 🤷🏻‍♀️.

  17. Vanna

    I agree. I watched her Vanity Fair interviews from 2017, 2018 and then 2019 and I found it hilarious how much she changed (and not in the normal way you expect a person to grow – in fact, she seemed more mature in her first interview at just 15 years old). Of course she had an excuse for that too: “I felt like I had to be bubbly then, now I’m just myself” and that sums up the excuse of all of a sudden having some fake accent you know damn well she wasn’t raised around/with? Come on, Billie. What makes me mad, a white woman myself, is that she has suchhhh a high fan base that they’ll defend her even when she’s doing something obviously WRONG. So accountability will never be taken, she’ll get away with it as every other white person (especially with their minion fan base) does and she’ll continue to act this way. I guarantee you that in the next few years as she grows, that style and her little “accent” will go away completely. Will accountability be taken then? No. She’ll just profit off of what black people have struggled with their entire life while it’s deemed as acceptable for her. Girl came from a rich white family, didn’t go to any school even. She’s been around her rich white family from the get go. I just don’t buy it, and I don’t get the hype over her either. Does she have a beautiful voice? SURE. I’m not sure how that excuses the way she dresses/acts and talks now when she never was that way before. Yeah, she’s young and we all make stupid decisions when we are, but we get held accountable/called out as the “little people” far more than someone who already came from a rich family and now has this huge platform. They get away with it all and MORE people see it/accept it/stand up for them. Billie is the epitome of white privilege if we’re being real.

    1. L

      I really agree with what you’re saying. Like, completely. I don’t think some fans understand that we’re not saying this to be hateful, we’re saying this because it’s true. Accountability NEEDS to be taken. Billie Eilish is a privileged white girl who has never suffered at the hands of racism. She’s never been poor, either. I just wish she would acknowledge the large role Black culture has played in her ‘style’ (or whatever it’s called), because if it weren’t for Black influences, she would be a completely different person. The way she talks, dresses, her speech patterns. All influenced.
      I know she’s a teenager, she’s not perfect, but is that an excuse? I’m 17 and it’s blatantly obvious to me that this is cultural appropriation. I would never use someone else’s culture to my advantage. A white person should be exactly that – a white person. She should just be herself and drop the persona. People keep saying ‘yeah but she was raised on the internet, things are different now’ – no. I disagree. I grew up with the internet too, and I don’t speak that way. Sigh.
      Anyway – completely agree with your comment. Preach.

      1. JJ

        She grew up with many black friends (Khalid, Duck etc.) even a boyfriend (Que), who, most likely, caused her to develop that blaccent and use AAVE. While Finneas does not have black friends.

        Also, yes. She has been poor. Learn more about her before you say anything. And yeah, obviously. She’d be a different person if she hadn’t been raised around black people.
        If you were to keep up with her, you’d know she’s starting to drop her little accent due to social distancing and her not being around her friends.
        Also, baby, she’s said many times that she wears baggy clothes to prevent not only body shaming, but cat-calling. (Not to mention the fact that a picture of her in a tank-top got leaked and is now all over the internet, and she has body dysmorphia.) Plus, if that’s not enough, she has given credit to black people. (Rihanna, etc.)
        she’s been to BLM protests. she’s also been on multiple rants talking about white privilege, BLM, and how ALM isn’t an option.
        PLUS, during the Grammys era, she saw a comment saying “I feel like she won because of her race.” she said something along the lines of “I agree.” She acknowledges her privilege.

        “Drop the persona?” You probably don’t have many black friends/family members in your life. It’s not that easy.

        It infuriates me when people speak on others without knowing anything about them.

        Written from the perspective of an ACTUAL black person.

  18. L

    Amazing article, I can’t describe how much I appreciate this. I wish some of the butthurt comments could look past their bias for a second and understand that this is the truth. If you’re going to be so heavily influenced by Black culture, especially as Billie is a white person (who has NEVER faced racism), the bare minimum should be acknowledging it and giving thanks to the community.

    1. JJ

      And she has. Thanks, though.

      she’s been to BLM protests. she’s also been on multiple rants talking about white privilege, BLM, and how ALM isn’t an option.
      PLUS, during the Grammys era, she saw a comment saying “I feel like she won because of her race.” she said something around the lines of “I agree.” She acknowledges her privilege.

      Written from the perspective of a black person.

  19. karen joyce

    Zariah, this is a brilliant article. Thank you so much for articulating the toxic phenomenon of cultural appropriation and white supremacy in black arts in a clear and direct, yet digestable way. I am inspired by you (especially since I’m almost twice your age) and know that you will accomplish remarkable things in your life. So happy that bright minds like you exist in the world. Keep thriving!

  20. AL

    bruv this is such a waste of timeee.

  21. Anna

    I am white, European, technohead and 44, so I will probably be accused of whitesplaining, and so be it. Reclaiming twerking and gangsta brag, seriously? Shouldn’t the point here be “this is shallow, sexist, and sad” rather than “is it a lie or is it true”?

  22. Not Billy Eilish I swear.

    Doesn’t everyone “appropriate”? Why should she or anyone else have to go through a list of people and cultures they’ve drawn inspiration from? Rap draws on rock and jazz. Rock draws on blues. Blues draws on a mix of influences from West African to European classical music. Focus less on dividing and more on what unites.

  23. Miranda

    This is a great article. Written incredibly articulately and gives a very thorough explanation of the author’s viewpoint. When I saw that it was written by a 15 year old I was amazed. I agree with the points that were made and it was written so well that I believe it will give a lot of readers food for thought. Great job

  24. Me?

    I didn’t read through all of this buuuut, if you wrote something bad about Billie, do you think we’d read all of it, if you Wrote something nice about Billie, I couldn’t agree more

  25. idk

    this article has to be a joke

  26. Jason Newsted

    Anyone who takes “cultural appropriation” seriously is not a student of history. Cultures influence one another throughout history. It is how humanity came to be what it is today.

    1. JJ

      Could not agree more.

  27. Whitney Sabbatino

    Oh my God. Just because you thought of something when you see her does not make it true or another reason to get offended by someone.
    Not everything requires a thank you.
    This is just digging and pandering to a cancel culture. Gross.

  28. rosie

    okay so i don’t agree with anything u have said but i just really think u should do more research on the artist u are bashing before u start writing something like this because it seems to me u know very little about her and its very foolish of u to assume the things u are saying about her :/

  29. Raven

    Okay she wears baggy clothes because she wants to wear baggy clothes , theres no cultural appropriation going on , you need to stop being rude . All races can wear baggy clothes , no offense but get over yourself.

  30. Marilyn Narota

    Great article! Keep it up! I’ve been thinking about this as I see Billie Eilish be so extremely popular and likable to her fans partly because of her style and manner of speaking, and I’ve asked myself, would she be as popular if she wasn’t a pale white girl doing this? My thought is probably not. And there’s a huge cultural, systemic problem here. I like that you take this unpopular opinion and say something that needs to be said and added to the conversation. I agree with basically everything you said. I still like Billie lots though, hahaha, but the extent of her appropriation is something I hadn’t seen people point out! You also explain cultural appropriation very clearly and thoroughly and cite solid reasons behind your argument, which I appreciate and agreed with. This isn’t just a random opinion by one person. It’s a real. Although, I don’t know how one would research every single word or phrase that has slipped into the larger vernacular, you’ve given me food for thought and now I will think twice about what I’m doing when choosing certain words or fashion. As the editor of a small magazine, I encourage you to keep speaking your mind because even if not everyone agrees, your point of view is on point and valid and needed.

  31. Jannet Taylor

    Billie Eilish is more real than any (music) artist I know. She expresses herself with her music and her clothing. People are all the sudden MAD at that. For real?

    Personally, I am a Billie Eilish. I always stay in her defense. It it NOT true that teenagers whom suffer from anxiety and depression listen to her music. I am a health teen and I love her music, and I as I said before it’s JUST expression.

    Rap is okay music, it usually is dirty. Which is why you really won’t hear me listen to it. It has cuss words, some of Eilish’s songs have cuss words but not as much as Rap.

    Billie is an amazing person. When she sees her fans, she see family. She let’s us know, “I see you, and I love you. This is why I do this.”

  32. Isaiah

    Lol I don’t think anybody believes Billie is seducing people’s dads or killing her friends

  33. T


    1. Jenny

      Wow! Just 16!! I am even more impressed with her now.
      Even if you don’t agree with her, come on, she is not stupid, for sure.

  34. Lucia Xavier

    This is a seriously flawed article for the following reasons: Deliberately misrepresenting an issue in order to present your own position is a poor argument indeed, some might even say it was a strawman fallacy. The bad guy is a sarcastic parody of the elements of Rap she has criticised. It is not her ‘bragging’ about seducing other people’s dads. If you had asked is she right to parody rap (hence the clothes and the lyrics) when she is not part of the culture she openly mocks then you would have had a strong starting point. Much of Eilish’s work and lyrics address her own mental health, and the darker side of the industry, the song Bury a friend is not about her bragging about killing her friends. written from the perspective of a monster under her bed it examines the dysfunctional relationship she has with it and also alludes to the cost of fame.
    “Where are the Billie Eilish fans when black people are defending themselves from racism on social media?”
    Not only is this a loaded question, but it is an indirect way to attack Eilish and her character. You also presume the ethnicity, character and politics of her fans. To compound this, you then connected several issues as if they were one and the same, this is known as a false cause.
    Worst of all your statement:
    “Black people are capable of growing naturally straight or blonde hair. Hair color and texture is a matter of genetics, not culture. Not only that, but black people were often forced to straighten their hair in order to assimilate into white society. So no, it’s not cultural appropriation. ”
    Not only fails to address the topic of cultural appropriation properly but ignores the issues of race and cultural oppression from within ethnic groups. Only in recent years has natural hair been accepted within Afro Caribbean and African American culture, the idea of having ‘bad’ hair is one that has been strongly prescribed to by these community that it drives a billion dollar hair industry which exploits other ethnic groups for their hair.
    As an Afro Caribbean woman, I can only speak for myself with regards to other ‘appropriating’ fashion and slang but it seems to me that the real issue is why are Afro Caribbean and African American people being punished for actively participating in their own culture? and what can we do to challenge this?

  35. KP

    You should do more research. Billie Eilish herself states her influences as primarily Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey as well as Tyler and Earl. The sample for this song was an Australian pedestrian single. People draw from many influences . Amy winehouse was influenced by Otis Redding,Billie Holiday, Shangrila and a host of other women songs from the forties through seventies. . Lana del rey had influences such as David Bowie, Julie Cruise and Amy Winehouse. You mentioned Aliyah. You know sone of her influences included Johnny Mathis,Korn, and Barbara Streisand. Are these artist the sum of their influences . No they do what the artist did before then . Get inspired and make music by what inspired them. The only divide in .music and race is the one the music industry set in place in the early 1900s. It is one thing to recognize Artist who didn’t get the credit they deserved a completely other use that history to demean other Artist. Baggy clothes been around since the 1920s . Hoop earrings go back to the 4th century and it didn’t stay In africa for the next 1500 years. Fashion ,music
    and history didn’t start in the nineties. NY hip hop was an upbeat version of the sixties beatnik movement . These were things that broke down racial barriers and instead of embracing that you choose to use it to divide. Look at what the record industry did to Miley cyrus when She wanted to explore hip hop music. Commercialized stereotypes her handlers made her do that led her down the wrong path. American culture is American culture matter what race you are. There are alot of terms that was used to identify wrongs and make right that have been so watered down they have today lost their meaning with articles like this.

  36. Rayley B

    This is contemporary fashion, and art. All fashion and art is derivative, appropriative and contemporary. Art is bigger than what culture was. Art is what culture is now. There’s always a wiggle of logic to justify anything today, look at the rise of Q for instance. I’m just bummed I can’t wear a baseball hat slightly crooked without being called an appropriator, when baseball and my crooked head DNA came before the appropriation I’m allegedly appropriating. I guess the cats out of the bag, 24/7. Time for us to celebrate and unify. The art world gleefully awaits…

  37. Patricia

    I so tried of “blacks gripping and saying how whites shouldn’t say the N- word when singing along with a song. Then it shouldn’t be in the song! I must say you never hear when a back artist uses racist slurs against Whites, thats never brought up, yet it happens all the time. You can’t even hardly Google it, yet you know you sing along with it. When is someone going to jump on that band wagon. You want blm… first you need to recognize ALL LIVES MATTER. What’s fair is, is fair, “Blacks” are making n keeping a division. We are all Gods children.

  38. Jessica

    Billie herself said the song these quotes are from is supposed to be taken ironically. Bad guy is about lying to yourself, and believing a false, cooler persona.

  39. Sally

    I’m so sorry this is NOT meant to be taken as offensive in ANY way. But I’m confused. White people are criticized for dressing in a way that “black people brought to popularity?” Isn’t that a good thing? They’re being accepting? If she dressed any other way she would be “just another basic white b*tch.” Just because she wears baggy clothes is does NOT mean she is trying to profit off of black culture. This kind of thinking that is displayed in this article is divisive and harmful. Sorry no hate meant, only trying to get people to see another side. ❤️

    1. Dude

      No, you’re stating facts. I’m growing sick of black entitlement and the rest of the world pandering to it.

  40. Dealwithit

    This article is total trash and everything that’s wrong with entitled black America.

  41. Ian

    I totally agree with this article except for one pretty major thing: “average” white kids arent using the n-word. That’s a damning sweeping generalization that you’re spreading based on your opinion. That’s destructive. Your article is right on, but painting your “average” white kid as an n-word dropping closet racist because you have a bone to pick with cultural appropriation is in no way any different than the negative behaviors you yourself are condemning. Other than that, you are so right about these white artists just totally taking advantage of the system. Post Malone is by far the clearest example of what you’re saying. And 2013 Miley Cyrus was an absolute cringe fest. I don’t know how she was able to even get away with the ridiculous cultural appropriation she pulled. Keep these articles coming.

    1. Jenny

      Yeah, my kids would definitely never use the N-word. But some kids in their school do. I have asked my kids to call out this kind of BS; racism, LGBTQ-phobia etc. Didn’t need to; they were already doing it and called me out too for using wrong pronoun once. They are pretty good at it. Definitely better than my generation. I have hope in the young people.

  42. Keisha

    Wah, wah, wah.

    Getting a little fatigued by these types of accusations. Every artist who ever lived has been inspired by others. “Cultural appropriation” is a joke.

    And what about you? Have you ever worn a weave? That’s not your hair. That’s Indian/Korean/Russian women’s hair.

    Stop looking for things that aren’t there. #truth

    Note: Respond all you won’t. I won’t read your replies. If you have something to say, then write your own comment.

  43. J

    I think this article has some very strong points. Though, at least from my perspective, I don’t think you have looked at her music deep enough to conclude some of the points that you had. It would be a mistake to conflate herself with her work.

  44. Lol

    Such a genius for 16.

  45. Jay yoos

    You did great, hit the nail on the head in many ways! This situation applies very much to my community, (one of my 2 communities) the Native community. The picking and choosing, the …. Well almost everything really that you mentioned, it is similar or the same as what we go through with “pretendians” or ” wanna-beindians” who have “some Native American in them” when they can’t and therefore don’t name what tribe or what band/clan of what tribe, or of course say their great great grandma was a Cherokee princess when we never had monarchies so that is impossible, celebrities wear headresses that I can’t right here even begin to explain how wrong is, we are told to get over it, ppl don’t even know about the residential schools that took our babies and killed and tortured them up till the 1980s then wear Halloween costumes and support mascots of native ppl wearing items illegal till recently to wear ceremonially even some ceremonies today are done under nights cover because how illegal they were shortly ago, and we are told speak English when they hear us great “Osiyo” to each other not knowing we are speaking and thus saving a 15,000yr old language, I feel you are speaking to our issues as well, please maybe do so more? With love , Jay , Wado!

  46. Shoal Creek

    Dumb rich white girls that try to come across as more black are insecure about their own upbringing and/or are trying to project a “tough” image. The sad part is that they come across as pathetic losers to anyone who has been around long enough to recognize true strength. Be faithful to who you really are. That is strength. Don’t give up on what you really feel you should be doing. Everyone faces obstacles. Those that seem to have it easy have sold away some part of themselves for the purpose of getting money and fame, thus the self-destructive behaviors that are common among the famous.

  47. dds

    omfg yess i agree

  48. Yo

    Anyone crying about cultural appropriation. I see you, and raise you Wu Tang Clan. That name and elements of which (swords/martial arts/etc depicted on albums) originate in hip hop, riiiight, or at the very least in Africa, riiiiight? Get over yourself

  49. Dittit

    Billie has never known a true fight. Can’t believe no one sees how much of a hypocrite she is. Shame.

  50. Tim Banzhof

    I think that you are correct. She is at a minimum a hypocrite in the terms of that “lying” statement. How is she entitled to artistic license and rappers are not? My bigger issue is why anyone likes her sound. Nails on a chalkboard to me…. Just AWFUL. BILLIE EILISH music sucks.

  51. Jillian Edgars

    All I hear is how much everyone wants “equality”!
    Equality this, equality that!
    And then yet when they explain and describe exactly what they consider equality to be, It’s the farthest thing from what actual equality is!
    Maybe some truly want every human on earth no matter the race to be equal, i know I do! But a majority of people who scream and cry all over social media and to the media don’t want that, they want SUPERIORITY!
    Some of yall want to be treated better than any and everyone! You think everyone either owes you something or should bow down to you, make excuses for you, give you everything for free without question, to allow you to do whatever you want without taking responsibility, and to give you credit for things just because of the color of your skin! Not that you have earned anything, any special treatment, or done something beneficial for the rest of the world….. But just because!
    And that’s wrong!
    I’m not sorry.

  52. prince

    this is an amazing article!

  53. Pablo

    Can you please also mention that hip-hop culture also borrowed influences from non-black cultures? For example, lowriders (started by Chicanos), khaki suits (also started by Chicanos), use of Spanish lingua (due to presence of Latinos in LA & NY), electronic beats (a white German innovation), Wu Tang Clan (uses TONS of Chinese words), white preppy fashion lines (like Polo and Tommy Hilfiger) and tattoos (started by Polynesians). EVERY SINGLE FAN of hip-hop needs to stick up for all those cultures (including those from non-black cultures) and defend people from ALL of those ethnicities!

  54. Jordan

    I totally agree with most everything you’re saying. But why can’t a person just act how they want to act? Do you expect ppl who talk with slang to go around letting everyone know they got it from black ppl and that they really respect black ppl? Are white ppl forever only supposed to act white and talk and sound white? Why can’t we sound cool too. Since when does a culture own slang? I understand that it’s not fair to judge bc black ppl will get judged for talking that way but white ppl won’t. However this is wrong. I know plenty of white ppl who talk in slang and get judged for it by other white ppl. White ppl as a whole didn’t steal anything. Just a few celebrities did and it influenced the young white youth. This is nobody’s fault. Shit just happens. You’re accent is usually formed from how you were raised. Many white ppl are raised in black and Mexican culture. Should we hate them for it?? NO. So how am I supposed to feel when I meet black ppl who appropriates me, white ppl. Sometimes they act whiter than I do. Do I get upset? NO. Do I judge them? NO. If that’s how they want to talk. And that’s the culture that they bound too. Then that’s ok with me. I guess being white you don’t grow up with a chip on your shoulder aka white privilege. Although I didn’t ask for this. And I didn’t ask to be white. I was just born this way. I love all typed and races of people. Black people do deserve credit for the culture they created. And the real white ppl give it to them and respect them.

  55. Joe Mike

    That’s entire article it’s very small minded. Cultural appropriation is a made up issue.

    1. penis prince


  56. sarah

    ok but if you read about the song Bad Guy it taps about how she is actually making fun of people’s personas, not trying to brag. also kendrick and asap and beyoncé and kanye are just some examples of successful black artists.

  57. Alex

    I love this article. Amazing.

  58. Skye

    This will always be relevant information! My learning won’t stop here. This was written so well 🙂

  59. Seth Smith

    Wow, imagine being called out for “appropriating” your own culture.
    We’re all American, and plenty of us white people are raised with Ebonics these days. Just because African-American vernacular doesn’t pervade her everyday speech doesn’t mean she wasn’t raised around it enough to use it comfortably. Leave the poor girl alone and let her write her music in peace.

  60. Maura Spires

    This article is fantastic I’m so glad I stumbled upon it. You put into words what was inside my soul.

  61. Yo

    wow I heard about this situation from a friend and I looked up the situation now I understand. I find it very hurtful when people take things from our culture and say what’s the big deal because the big deal is the fact that we are constantly being criticized or made fun of for celebrating our culture but when a white person does it they are congratulated.

  62. Joe MaMa

    Yes, Billie is white she dates men outside her race who gives af?! She is white you think she talks black?- explain how that really happens that different races can sound another way. Really this article is a complaint puff piece. Continue your rants, but let’s get off race we’re trying to move past trump like people who ensue ignorance, jealousy, side ways trash talk, racism, (and so on add nauseam) aka you and all the people who bash whites blacks asians etc. Tired of the hate and blame game! #Next

  63. Angel

    Wow, that’s all I have to say.

  64. Tony DiTrappani

    Why are you picking on Billie Eilish so obviously? It sounds like you have a bone to pick with white people. I don’t have a problem with diversity however when I hear a so-so pop tune like “Bad Blood” which already had a strong market add Kendrick’s rap, I mean really, why mess it up with genres that just seen so inappropriate for the song?

    And no, I’m not a Billie fan either, like why is she saying all good girls go to hell? Crazy, incongruous, irrelevant.

  65. Richard Garcia

    Love this article!!!! It brings up many important points and I’m glad someone wrote it.

  66. Amira Tilly

    It should be noted, Eilish is signed to Interscope.
    1. People who work in the entertainment industry (as “products”) contractually surrender some degree of creative control (many have very little and even zero creative control). Those limitations extend far beyond their craft. Like most entertainers under contract, Eilish has little control over not only the lyrics she performs and how she delivers them – but the way she walks, talks, and how she looks as well. Her “social life” in public. And even *what* she talks about in interviews. Anytime a music performer who is under contract is talking about what this or that lyric means? Yea, nope. She’s required to stay “on brand.” There are no rebels who go off-brand doing as they please or refusing to say what they’re told to say – if they appear to be? It’s because *that’s* branding, too. Any real rebels get smackdown-ed with a costly lawsuit for breach of contract. The entertainment industry does not treat its entertainers as people – they are *products.* (with all due respect – that includes VOX writers. The entertainment industry includes news media). I enjoy listening to Billie Eilish. But mostly – for the ghosts.

    2. Interscope is the worst. Not simply in terms of how very little control their artists are allowed – but for *what* they’re selling. Nineties gangsta rap – was not a good thing. It is not black people’s rhythm or their blues – it is not even “good rap.” (Watts Prophets – who predate 90s rappers by decades – is “good rap.” It’s black culture. Good 90s rap, is Organized Noize). White kids emulating black 90s rappers – is not cultural appropriation. 90s gangsta rap was propaganda specifically intended and nefariously designed to denigrate and demean black people. It was a promotional campaign selling the perpetuation of centuries of white people’s racially-prejudiced attitudes and abusive behavior.

    I don’t blame black 90s rappers for white people locking their doors around black people. I blame Jimmy Iovine and the FBI (Interscope).

    Not-so-fun fact: “Dad Rap” is a reference to corporate/business world terminology. Specifically – ‘parent company.’ In the business world – a ‘subsidiary’ is an entity 51% or more owned by its ‘parent company.’ For example – HBO is a subsidiary and WarnerMedia is its parent. (WarnerMedia itself is also a subsidiary – its parent company is AT&T).

    An example of “Dad Rap” is the relationship between Death Row Records and Interscope. Since day one, Interscope (its parent) owned Death Row (Interscope’s subsidiary). The Death Row label was started with white people’s money – Interscope gave them the money to start it in exchange for controlling share (more than 51%) of the label. “Controlling” means 2 things here: more than 51% of profits, AND creative control. Tupac’s “move” from Interscope to Death Row was as meaningless as his “thug life” tattoo. It was a scripted scene, for one of the fictional characters Interscope created to play the role of “thug.” (“master” Interscope’s demotion of Tupac to its slave overseer Death Row, *wasn’t financially meaningless to Tupac though – he went from Interscope taking his earned income, to both Interscope *and* Death Row taking his earned income).

    The use of “master” and “slave” aren’t a trivialization of pre-civil war era slavery. The entertainment industry of the last several decades IS modern-day slavery. It’s not slavery-lite. In many ways it’s worse. Especially in exploitation of black people to perform work. To point to a black entertainer’s “spending money” or bank account or material “possessions” – is fundamentally no different than those who deny the labor slavery of our past with the twisted “logic” that black people were “generously” clothed, fed and housed by their captors.

  67. Juan

    It really irks me that she talks that way especially since she is from a gentrifying latino neighborhood and was homeschooled.

    1. F

      I agree.

  68. Jenny

    Very well written! Great.
    I think CA often comes from ignorance rather than malice, but sometimes it does come from ppl intentionally wanting to profit, for sure!
    I am shocked that someone would get FIRED etc for wearing dreads. I looked it up and yes, it is true, it happened. What the fuck. I hope they sued. But then, if you are not in a position of wealth and privilege, maybe it is not so easy to sue someone.
    I had no idea about 24/7 and fxxkboy! I certainly use these words (I am white/asian). Thanks for the info! Also, I was born in Sweden and did not know until I was an adult how many of our words come from Romani/Romanes. I love this about the Swedish language, but we should know the history and all the good things Romani (and others) have given us.
    In my opinion, understanding, respect and communication is the key. Thanks for a good article.

    1. Jenny

      PS. Just want to say that I like Billie. I don’t think it is any malice there. I think she seems like the kind of person who might get things wrong but is open minded and wants to learn.

  69. Jenny

    Thank you to the person who wrote this articles and all the commenters for making us think! I am kind of older, Gen X, my biggest issue particularly when younger is I have been sort of colourblind (my society as a kid, well meaning but .. you know). People were really behind in the Swedish small towns in the 90s, some were seriously racist and some just ignorant. For example, I remember getting comments like “it doesn’t matter that you don’t look that Swedish, you are cute anyway”. I am always trying to improve myself, understand and learn. If I fuck up, I get upset with myself, but move on and keep trying.

  70. Kristin Fletcher

    I appreciate what you’re saying! While watching Elvis movie the other night, before reading this article, I wondered how black people feel about the wild success of Elvis’ style in a time when blacks and whites were segregated by laws and the attitude was so negative in the south where Elvis got his start. They would not have attended black musician’s concert. The girls going wild over his performances would have most likely have expressed disgust at blacks dancing like that on stage, if they had the chance to see it. While Elvis himself gave credit to black musicians and culture, that seems to have been downplayed publicly. Any feelings on that?

  71. name *

    i completely agree with you when you talk about the unfair way society views and makes assumptions about who you are based on your race and the color of skin is a huge problem. a darker person (usually black or hispanic) can do the same thing a white person does but when they do it it’s seen as ghetto out unprofessional, while the white person may get praised and called cool for doing the same thing. it’s fucking annoying and it forces some black and hispanic people to feel like they have to act more “proper” and “polite”, while the opposite is often seen for white people, where they are almost encouraged to act “cool” or “based” (sorry, i know the word choices are shitty). it says a lot about how so many people have been brainwashed into interpreting things from a close-minded, biased mindset. getting that out of the way, i personally don’t think that billie eilish “getting away with” things as a white pierson or not “acknowledging” black-inspired things is something that she should get “canceled” over, but i think it’s something that should be brought to not only her attention, but many of her fans base and those that others that think in a “double-standard” kind of way. i think that this is more of an eye-opening experience that could help people “wake-up” and learn from in my opinion. (completely unrelated, billie was homeschooled when growing up, so that possibly may also play a part in the “quirky” way she is now. i’m sorry if this came off shitty, that wasn’t my intention 😵‍💫)

  72. Gargamel

    Now that it’s over 2 years later, watch how plain and white she talks in interviews now. She was putting on a facade directed by her managing family to reel in fans. It’s pretty cringe all around.

  73. Sarah

    You realize that in a multicultural society different cultures mix, taking inspiration from one another? Do we criticize black people for a ‘Whitecent’ when they speak, or for dressing ‘nerdy’ or traditionally white? This whole bitter attitude towards white people embracing black culture is in itself racism. To say that one skin tone isn’t allowed to dress the same as the other PUSHES segregation seen with the Jim Crow laws. The irony! Since the dawn of time, cultures have fought, and strengthened their success when they work TOGETHER.

    England is an example of this, as early as the 13th century more than 5 different civilizations slowly blended until they were together as one people. That doesn’t diminish that these people excited. We still embrace the history and traditons of the Germanic Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians, there is an abundance of Roman architecture, Celtic traditions upheld, and traditional jewellery is still worn. Imagine if they stopped one another from taking on one anothers cultures?

    I read of women complaining that white women wear braided hair, a tradition also 30,000 years old in Austria and common with Vikings, as was dreaded hair. The Celts braided hair in Ancient times (described as ‘like snakes’ in literature). That aside, saying that white employers judged black women for that hair style and yet now white women are doing it, do you not realize that in itself that this will make braided hair normal to these narrow minded people? That’s exactly how societies merge, through immitation, it becomes accepted. That’s not to say it’s fair women suffered judgment, but to hold onto that is preventing us all becoming one people, in love and acceptance.

    As for criticizing mainstream rap for glamourizing objectifying women, violence and superficial bragging- tell me where they are wrong? The music industry should be held accountable for pushing this music, it is being pumped out to young, impressionable black teens as black role models. I don’t think its a stretch to say it has something to do with the single black mother rate jumping from 24% in the 60s, to 74% in recent figures. The industry needs to be accountable for what young people- the main listeners- are being fed. This is a much wider issue than cultural appropriation.